Sparkle Division


Temporary Residence • 2023

If you only know the music of William Basinski, but nothing about the person behind it, Sparkle Division’s debut album »To Feel Embraced« may have thrown you for a, erm, loop. At first glance, the wonky easy-listening footwork with a whole bunch of saxophone interludes bears very little resemblance with the »Disintegration Loops« or the drawn-out, drony grief work of more recent albums like »A Shadow In Time.« But on the one hand Basinski has always drawn on Muzak for his hauntological ambient and on the other hand he is a fun-loving trickster with heart and soul. With Sparkle Division, he found common ground with studio assistant Preston Wendel during Lockdown times. For »Foxy,« producer and sound engineer Gary Thomas Wright, who has already worked on records by Cher and Eric Clapton, joins this odd duo. Needless to say, things are getting a little wilder and weirder. The loose underlying narrative of this album revolves around two young newcomers in late 1960s Hollywood who meet the titular pimp and drug dealer whilst tripping on LSD, because of course. Musically, »Foxy« is equally located at the intersection of glam and pulp, bringing lounge sounds, jazz bass, drum’n’bass breaks and of course Basinski’s splendid sax freakouts in motion with each other. Quite a few of these tracks could find their way into a Madlib DJ set or accompany the softcore programme of a cable TV station aftermidnight. The centrepiece »The Punch!«—spiked, of course—there is however a near-psychotic/fully-psychedelic ambient piece that manages to establish the connection to Basinski’s solo work. It’s a rather serious moment on an album that at times threatens to become lost in its own silliness, yet always gets its act together at just the right moment. Even if you expect the unexpected, you’re not prepared for this one.